Dodgers 3, D-backs 1: Stewart, Puig and a whole lot of relievers secure sweep

This was a pretty low-scoring game in spite of the fact that neither starter looked especially sharp. Brock Stewart retired the first two batters he faced, then walked A.J. Pollock, who came in to score on a Paul Goldschmidt double that Charlie Culberson almost made a nice play on.

Stewart didn’t give up any runs after that, even though the leadoff batter reached in each of the next four innings he pitched. He gave up a total of five hits and two walks, and the only strikeout he picked up was the final batter he faced (Goldschmidt). Both Stewart and Dave Roberts noted postgame that Stewart didn’t have his best stuff. “The fastball life wasn’t the same way it was against the Cubs, and the breaking ball wasn’t as sharp,” said Roberts. “After the fifth inning, I felt that was all he had for me. At that point in time, I just matched up guys.”

Stewart, whose performance tonight earned him his first Major League win, felt that he “battled.” “I found out today that I can pitch here without my best stuff,” said Stewart, “so that’s definitely a confidence boost.”

I wrote in the game thread about Robbie Ray‘s good strikeout numbers and mediocre walk numbers, and he lived up to both tonight, striking out 12 Dodger batters and walking four in six innings pitched. Three of those walks came in the first inning, including one to the leadoff batter, Howie Kendrick, who then scored on a Corey Seager double. Seager took third on a wild pitch, and scored on a Yasiel Puig sac fly. Ray then settled in a bit, delivering four scoreless innings and, at one point, retiring eight batters in a row, before Puig launched a slider 406 feet to center in the bottom of the sixth.

After Stewart’s day was done, Dave Roberts started taking full advantage of the expanded September rosters — particularly, the expanded September bullpen. In the top of the sixth, four pitchers faced four batters. J.P. Howell struck out Jake Lamb. Louis Coleman followed him with a K of Yasmany Tomas. Luis Avilan walked Chris Herrmann. Jesse Chavez got Mitch Haniger to ground out. The whole inning took 17 minutes, which prompted a lot of “still faster than Pedro Baez!” jokes.

Except it’s actually not a joke:

Oy. (We’ll get back to Baez in a bit.)

The top of the seventh inning was tense, as the first two batters got base hits off of Jesse Chavez, then advanced on a groundout to third. Chavez picked up a big strikeout, then ended his night with an intentional walk to Goldschmidt. Grant Dayton was brought in to face the left-handed Lamb, but instead saw right-handed pinch hitter Rickie Weeks. When asked if that changed his approach, Dayton said that his approach is “simplified … is he left handed, or is he right handed? After that, I’m trying to execute strikes, and trust in the catcher.”

Here’s what he did with Weeks:

Just continued to be a strikeout machine, that’s all.

“Chooch was calling what I was thinking he was gonna to call,” said Dayton, “so we were on the same page.”

The aforementioned Baez pitched the top of the eighth, and faced four batters, striking out two and walking one. It took ten minutes. Could’ve been worse.

With a two-run lead, Kenley Jansen came in to pitch the top of the ninth, as expected. What was sort of interesting, though, was the fact that Roberts opted to remove Carlos Ruiz and, instead, have Yasmani Grandal catch. Things didn’t go so well the first time Ruiz tried to catch Jansen, and Roberts apparently didn’t want to chance it this time. “Obviously, Yasmani’s got a lot of familiarity with [Kenley],” Roberts said of his decision; he further explained that Grandal would have been due to hit should the game progress to the bottom of the ninth. All went well, though, making the latter a happily moot point.

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The Giants lost today, which, paired with the Dodger victory, puts L.A.’s magic number at 19, and their divisional lead at five games. Fun times, folks.

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The Dodgers are off tomorrow as they travel to Miami, and Friday is KERSHAW DAY. Clayton Kershaw pitching for the first time in two months, facing off against Jose Fernandez and Don Mattingly‘s Marlins? Yeah, that’s some much-watch baseball right there. First pitch is 4:10 PM Pacific time.

About Sarah Wexler

Sarah Wexler
Sarah Wexler is a native Angeleno and longtime Dodger fan. She began blogging about baseball in 2012 on her Tumblr, New Grass On The Field, where she covered an array of topics but especially enjoyed exploring baseball history. She is now a reporter/producer for MLB.com. She earned her master's degree in Sports Management from Cal State Long Beach. She graduated from New York University in 2014 with a bachelor's in History and a minor in American Studies. She's an avid Springsteen fan, which is a big boost to her baseball writer cred.